Those are the sorts of people at parties that I actively flee from, the grinches that just want to hyper scrutinize rather than discuss. And yet... Maybe because I have seen the film so many times, and maybe because anymore I only see it at the same time I am consuming real basketball in excess, I cannot help but comically note to myself the fantastical way in which Cinderella Hickory High requisitely wins the Big Game against the mighty Bears of South Bend Central.
Hickory is down 40-36 and they make this up over the game’s final minute (which is more impressive than it sounds given the non-shot clock era setting) by employing a full court press that the mighty Bears of South Bend Central are conspicuously unable to break. They ignore every rule you learn from intramurals on up about how to attack a pressing defense, throwing the ball into the corner and, at the end, leisurely dribbling the ball up the left hand side of the court, snugly against the sideline and DIRECTLY INTO A TRAP. Or, as Bill Simmons himself summarized it: “After Hickory scores, the South Bend coach never calls timeout, leading to another turnover. After another Hickory basket, no timeout ... and they turn the ball over again! Tie game! Then they turn the turn the ball over again (no timeout).” It’s preposterous! That’s why it’s a movie! Because these are things, as they say, that could never happen in real life!
|No, dude, where are you going?????|
|Ah yes, right into the trap, while the coach of the mighty Bears of South Bend Central looks on haplessly.|
Then, a strange thing happened. Texas A&M, a la Hickory, applied full court pressure and Northern Iowa, a la the mighty Bears of South Bend Central, started throwing the ball to the corner and dribbling directly into traps. It was like a screenwriter turned off Northern Iowa’s Basketball IQ to engender the ending he/she wanted. It was as if Northern Iowa was playing straight man to Texas A&M, deliberately throwing the game away to serve a storyline. The poor Panthers somehow surrendered 12 points in 34 seconds. It was, say the people who know these things, a 1-in-3,000 comeback. And they would eventually lose in double overtime. It all happened so fast, and in the moment was so improbable, that it took me at least a day to fully process, and when I finally did, I realized that, slight variations aside, Northern Iowa had made that “There Is No Way This Would Actually Happen In Real Life” ending in “Hoosiers” happen.
It’s weird, when you watch “Hoosiers”, you root for Hickory, and there is comfort in that because sports are otherwise so unpredictable and in this context you always know your team will win. I had never considered what it might feel like when the team I was rooting for turned out to be South Bend Central.